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Culture

For Your Emmy Consideration: Michael Kelly, Ubermensch of Hench

Season three of House of Cards is Doug Stamper’s moment to shine. Recovering from the traumatic brain injury and hobbled by a cane, the presidential henchman’s tightly coiled persona begins to unravel in gruesome ways. He slaps his doctor in the face out of frustration, and breaks his arm so severely after falling in the shower you can glimpse the bone. He starts self-medicating with painkillers and syringes full of alcohol, and before long lost all the vestiges of self-control that had been his predominant character trait for two seasons. We see Doug’s home life–as sterile as you imagine his soul to be–become overrun by his well-adjusted and well-meaning brother and his wife (who shows up announcing she’s from “a big family of huggers,” as Doug looks appropriately horrified); as well as the nephews that he had never met. President Frank Underwood and wife Claire distance themselves from him, and he goes to the opposition with potentially ruinous material about Claire’s abortion before revealing it to be a long con: his loyalty to Frank had never wavered, even as his sense of self disintegrated.

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